COMET Presses Buildings Dept. On Problems
Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) pressed a Department of Buildings (DOB) representative on community driveways to clear up confusion at the civic’s monthly meeting on Monday, June , at Bethzatha Church of God in Elmhurst.
Stemming from questions raised at May’s meeting by several COMET members and Elmhurst resident Rose Leung about the vulnerability to injury of children playing in community driveways, Kenneth Lazar, a community affairs liaison to Queens from the Department of Buildings, came to COMET Monday night to help clear up the confusion regarding resident’s liabilities regarding community-owned driveways.
One Maspeth resident, Kathleen Loftus, has personally dealt with the shared responsibilities, and liabilities that come with community driveways, though she herself does not park in one. She lives in a corner house on 52nd Road, and the sidewalk adjacent to her home also serves as the entrance to a community driveway for 13 houses.
The sidewalk was cracked and she was given a violation and told it had to be repaired and that even though she did not use it herself, she was responsible to pay for some of the work.
“He made me realize I was right,” Loftus said of Lazar’s advisement to COMET Monday night. “Everything that goes on in that driveway is all our responsibility.”
Eventually the city fixed the sidewalk and billed Loftus $270, and her neighbors $90 each. It was an unpleasant and frustrating experience for Loftus.
“Community driveways are a headache,” she said. “I would never buy a community driveway house again.”
Responding to questions from Leung, who is concerned a child playing in the community drive where she lives could get hurt. Lazar told COMET the police do not have the authority to force kids to leave a community driveway.
“Basically it’s a civilian issue,” he said. “It’s a private property issue.”
Lazar lives in a house with a community driveway as well, and had similar experiences and the same frustrations residents voiced, he told the group.
“It’s not a playground,” he said. “It’s private property.”
At last month’s COMET meeting residents questioned Capt. Brian Hennessy, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, on the issue. They asked if police can direct kids to leave to protect them from accidental injury, and adults from causing one.
COMET President Rosemarie Daraio asked Lazar to speak at Monday night’s meeting to address residents questions on the topic.
He also told the group to make sure of their property lines by “checking your deeds, and “if it’s specifically on your driveway, it’s a trespass.”
Lazar used the examples of “dumping, a cracked wall,” as analogous situations where “everybody that owns in the driveway receives a violation,” and said this is similar to homeowners responsibilities if someone was to get hurt in the community-owned drive.
Ultimately, he advised COMET and residents with these concerns to communicate among themselves to resolve the issue.
“Get together and have a block meeting,” he said.
110th Precinct update
Capt. Ralph Forgione, executive officer of the 110th Precinct, updated COMET on crime in their area.
He reported a 39 percent decrease for the last week, a 12 percent reduction for the most recent 28-day period and an 8 percent drop for the year. There were three burglaries in the last 28 days, two were at businesses, he said.
Forgione advised COMET to be careful when using ATM’s at banks and local corner stores to reduce exposure to potential skimmer cameras that can steal account numbers and identification information.
He urged the group to check the cover pads where you input your PIN to make sure there isn’t a false covering placed by perpetrators, which is designed to steal your card number.
“When you’re using you’re ATM, before you scan your card, tug on the pad, see if it’s loose. If it comes off, make sure you let us know,” Forgione said. The police are also going to ATM’s and doing their own tugging to cut down the skimmer scheme.
“Everywhere, we wiggle them everywhere,” he said of cops tracking down false ATM covers.
104th Precinct news
Capt. Timothy Brown, executive officer of the 104th Precinct, updated COMET on the Knockdown Center. He praised the ownership for cooperating with police and said, “management has been very responsible,” in dealings with the 104th Precinct.
Though the music venue remains unpopular with many civic associations because of noise from concerts and fears of alcohol-fueled rowdiness spilling out into the streets, management has behaved. “I cannot really say anything (bad) about the management or security,” Brown said.
As for a recent concert that some residents said they could hear from nearby homes, Brown said, “we didn’t give any violations that night.”
“They were in compliance. They’ve been pretty good,” he added.
Brown also told the group that two seniors had been robbed in the precinct’s confines within the last 28 days. One occurred on May 8, and the other on May 30.
During the most recent incident, Brown reported, an elderly woman answered the door and was confronted by a perpetrator displaying a firearm. He did not injure the woman, but stole some items from her home. On May 5, Brown reported, an elderly female received a knock at the door, was told there was a leak in her basement and that he needed to check on it. She let him in the house and walked to the basement, when she head footsteps overhead and got suspicious. She got nervous and went back upstairs to find two other men stealing property from her home.
“It was two cowards who robbed an old lady,” Brown said of the May 5 robbery.
Brown also reported “a crew of pickpockets” that stole phones and other items during the Grand Avenue street festival in Maspeth on Sunday, June 1, though overall, “it was a very successful street fair,” he said.
“We believe it was a team of females that worked the crowd,” Brown said. “All of it was pickpocket stuff.”
Brown closed by telling COMET that on June 12, at Maspeth High School there will be a Vision Zero night with representatives from several precincts. He also told the goup the 104th Precinct will continue to target hazardous driving summonses for running through red lights, speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, talking or texting while driving and not wearing seat belts.
“We were number one in Queens North (in hazardous summonses) we took a zero tolerance to that,” Brown said.
COMET held annual elections for officers during the meeting. Reelected President was Rosemarie Daraio, elected First Vice President Richard Gundlach, Second Vice President Richie Doyle, Third Vice President Mike Fordunski, Treasurer, Geraldine Walsh and elected Secretary, Joanne Keeley.
The next COMET meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Bethzatha Church of God, located at 85-20 57th Ave. in Elmhurst.